The Scarcity Mindset in the Paralegal Profession is Not Good for Anyone

Do you feel like you’re in a constant battle with the scarcity mindset?

The scarcity mindset has been plaguing the paralegal profession for far too long. This mindset is detrimental to all of us as we become limited in our potential to grow and excel as a collective. Not enough people are talking about it and we’re here to break the ice and start shifting that mindset for the greater good.

Prefer to Listen Instead of Read?

Let’s talk about the scarcity mindset in the paralegal profession.  We might ruffle a few feathers, but someone needs to call it out. It’s worth it to put this information out there to help the next generation of paralegals who are coming up the ranks right now. This is for those just starting out or who have only been in it for a few years and that are still struggling to get the on-the-job training that they hoped would make their role and responsibilities clear.

the detriments of the paralegal scarcity mindset

If this is you – the one who is struggling to get clear direction or are new to the paralegal profession and you feel consistently unsure – you are not alone. We have all felt that way when we first started out. If you’re thinking your paralegal certificate program forgot to mention a few things or didn’t prepare you to do your job – you are not alone. None of them do. But it’s not the school’s fault. It’s the same with any college degree. Getting a degree in finance doesn’t mean you’re ready to be a CFO. Take the pressure off yourself, we all have to start somewhere.

What is a scarcity mindset?

Let’s start with the definition of a scarcity mindset. There are different ways of viewing it, but the one we’re covering today is the scarcity mindset that causes people to compete against each other rather than work together.

A person with a scarcity mindset looks out for their own interests, rather than seeks opportunities to help others. They choose to hoard resources, like money or power or knowledge, rather than sharing for the greater good.

And in our case for the sake of fellow paralegals working in your law firm.

Someone with a scarcity mindset thinks that if others win, then they lose. In other words, there can only be one winner. In other words, there can only be one top paralegal in the firm. If the others shine, then it’s not good for the person with the scarcity mindset.

Why is this relevant today?

The true relevancy of this topic and why it’s important for us to discuss now became clear after we shared a resource on our website and social media channels called the 3-Step Roadmap to Manage Cases like a Rockstar Litigation Paralegal.

It is a resource for new litigation paralegals that provides them with 3 action steps for proactively managing their cases. Overall the feedback has been wonderful as we’ve been told that it has helped many new litigation paralegals.

However, we have received backlash from senior paralegals with 20 to 30 years of experience suggesting that it’s just not possible to be a rockstar litigation paralegal in 3 steps – that it takes decades of experience.


Some of these comments included:

“Trust me, I’ve been a litigation paralegal for 30 years. It takes a lot more than three steps.”

“It took me 32 years of repetition and experience.”

But what if it didn’t have to take a couple of decades to be a rockstar paralegal?

If you are relatively new to the paralegal profession, say five years or less, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to take you a decade, 20 years, and definitely not 30 years to become a rockstar litigation paralegal.

What is holding you back?

As new paralegals, we often wait around for senior paralegals to show us how to become great paralegals and making the following the main reasons why it could take you a decade or two.

  1. The paralegals who want to share their knowledge and show you the ropes are busier now more than ever as they tak on extra work due to staffing shortages.
  2. The scarcity mindset in some paralegals prevents them from sharing their knowledge and skills with new paralegals in fear they they will no longer be looked at as the top paralegal at their firm.

These reasons are at the detriment of the firm and the paralegal profession. Why would we want any lawyer to look at any of the paralegals at their firm and think that they’re not very good at their job?

This brings down the entire paralegal profession because ultimately that lawyer views that there is ONLY ONE paralegal in the world who is competent. Eventually, that lawyer leaves the firm and moves on to a new firm with 10 new paralegals with a mindset that his paralegal from his last firm was the only good one that exists and he’ll just use his associates to do his work.

Honestly, we could go on and on about why it’s a bad thing and how it creates paralegal underutilization, but it seems that the best way to change the scarcity mindset of another is to call them out on it. It’s something that needs to be brought up more in order to ignite change.

Experiencing the Scarcity Mindset

I saw the scarcity mindset first-hand when I was a litigation paralegal and then as a paralegal manager. And I hear it from other managers and attorneys on a daily basis.

What’s disappointing is I hear it from hundreds of paralegals who reach out to me saying they are struggling to find someone, anyone, who will show them what is necessary to become a great paralegal.

Even if you’re not new to the profession and you’re not the one with the scarcity mindset, you probably know someone in your office right now who has it. It shows its face when paralegals speak badly about other paralegals in the firm to their attorneys, just to make themselves look better. We bet you can all think of one in your office right now – we all know one, unfortunately.

Our new paralegals can probably relate to this scenario:

You start your new position and you’re told that so-and-so has been assigned as your mentor. They take you to lunch on your first day, show you where the copy machine and breakroom are, and you don’t see them again for a month. You email or stop by to ask a quick question and they’re simply too busy to stop and help you.

Eventually, you stop asking and try to figure it out on your own.

battling the paralegal scarcity mindset

A New Generation of Paralegals

For the past 10 years, Paralegal Boot Camp has been working to remove these stumbling blocks for the paralegal – especially litigation paralegals. I give you the information you should have received on day 1 and throughout your first few years in the profession.

If you are a new litigation paralegal, you don’t need to wait 10 years to be a rockstar paralegal. You don’t even need to wait 10 years to be a six-figure paralegal.

The new generation of paralegals are tech-savvy. They are smart. And given the right training – they are going to set a new bar for what a very successful litigation paralegal looks like. Maybe that scares some paralegals to think that might happen but it makes me excited for what is in store for the paralegal profession!

Some of the Best Paralegals I Ever Hired

Back when I was a paralegal manager, some of the BEST litigation paralegals I hired were entry-level paralegals.

In fact, that’s how this journey into entrepreneurship began for me. It was around 2005, and I was a manager trying to figure out how to hire paralegals for a team that could only bill their paralegals at $65 per hour because of client billing restrictions while the attorneys wanted me to find them a paralegal with the experience level of an $80,000 paralegal!

I ran the numbers and it was just not possible to keep the team’s group profitable if we did that. I convinced them to let me hire two entry-level paralegals and I personally trained them from the ground up. Our senior paralegals were either too busy or would have a scarcity mindset. I was responsible for the idea so I wanted it to work.

To make it successful, I developed a 1-year training program that showed these new paralegals how to do everything I knew about managing litigation cases. Everything! We met once a week and literally took a real case that the firm had from the complaint to the trial and everything in between.

And you know what happened?  Within 2-3 years, those attorneys were calling these paralegals rockstars. It didn’t take 10 or 20 years to get them there. It just took the right kind of training – mindset, behaviors, and skills.

Fast forward to 2010, after putting several more paralegals through that internal training program, I decided that I really enjoyed the training part of my management position, but not the HR side of it.

I thought to myself, what if I could do this for more paralegals – like paralegals all over the country?

So I started the Paralegal Boot Camp with a course that took new litigation paralegals from the complaint through the trial.

ARE YOU NEW TO LITIGATION?

You can fast-track your career with our 3-Step Roadmap to Manage Cases Like a Rockstar Litigation Paralegal! If you are new (or fairly new) to litigation, this free guide will help you get a handle on your cases and be able to anticipate what the attorney needs before they ask for it.

GET A COPY OF THE FREE GUIDE HERE

I’ve put together a free one-hour masterclass for new litigation paralegals where I talk about my framework model – the Litigation Paralegal Career Accelerator. I’ll show you the areas to focus your early years on so that you can be successful beyond what you can imagine right now and NOT wait 10 years.

This free masterclass will be held a couple of different times next week because I know flexibility is important for you to be able to attend. Reserve your seat for the free masterclass here.

paralegal training

Meet the Author

Ann Pearson is the Founder of the Paralegal Boot Camp, and host of the Paralegals on Fire! Podcast Show, and passionate about promoting the paralegal profession.

Ann spent 20 years working as a paralegal manager and a litigation paralegal before opening the Paralegal Boot Camp in 2010. Her training programs focus on adding immediate value to a paralegal’s career and bridging the gap between what a paralegal learns in school and what they actually do on the job.

When Ann is not working, you can usually find her somewhere near the ocean, either boating, scuba diving, or rescuing sea turtles.

Connect with Ann on LinkedIn

Comments

  • Sara January 12, 2022 at 5:23 am Reply

    I agree the mindset “I had to figure everything out for myself” perpetuates an environment in which we all have to figure everything out for ourselves (while living in constant fear of making a mistake). Can I figure it all out? Yes. Would I love to be a rock star at a fascinating job? Of course. Should I have to sacrifice my health to get that far? No.

    • Ann Pearson January 13, 2022 at 2:07 pm Reply

      I hear that a lot too! “I had to figure out myself, and I didn’t even have Google back then.” SMH.

  • Lynnemarie January 15, 2022 at 3:47 pm Reply

    Thanks for the great information and opportunity to sign up for your free Masterclass.! I have taken your Bootcamp classes in the past and everything has been helpful in my work.

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